InSciEd Out is a collaborative partnership committed to rebuilding preK-12 science education curricula for the 21st century. The organization began in the spring of 2009 having recognized a need to engage with lagging student science proficiency scores and a shortage of beginning teachers prepared to teach scientific disciplines in elementary or middle level classrooms. InSciEd Out provides opportunities for in-service teachers to grow themselves as scientists, engineers, and educators, inviting multidisciplinary teams of teachers from a common school into professional laboratories for a summer internship experience. In their first internship within the lab, participants learn more about community generated health themes, genetics, development and the nature of science. Later, such knowledge is utilized to create standards-based curriculum modules for students in grades preK-12. This curriculum is supported through a rich resource of local science volunteers and a tech library filled with tools for the students.
InSciEd Out offers several Tiers of training for our partner teachers. The Tier 1 experience includes an initial twelve-day summer internship in a thematic area followed by an additional three days of curriculum development in the fall. Teachers who wish to run curriculum from another area of focus and who have attended our internship can “cross-credential” with other theme areas. The training is maintained through an interactive, online technological portal. This portal connects all teachers, students, and scientists of InSciEd Out and includes InSciEd Out curricula, a resource library, student publication network, and the processes of assessment collection and analyses. The new curriculum is stringently reviewed for both learning and health/behavioral outcomes.
Tier 2 internships were first followed in 2011 to allow independent integration of cultural relevance into the initial scientific work developed during the Tier 1 experience. The goal of the Tier 2 internship is to provide some instruction (mornings of 5-day internship) and some working time (afternoons of 5-day internship) to revise the InSciEd Out classroom modules into higher quality products set to reach the students previously marginalized to Science.
We have also added Gold Master training, a two-year graduate level experience that focuses on pillars of innovation that include action research, peer review, and global awareness. This work prepares the future leaders of InSciEd Out.
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) was introduced as the initial model system of choice within the internships and embedded in each education module. For example, ‘The Impact of Ethanol and Other Chemicals’ module, a sixth grade curriculum deploys zebrafish to demonstrate the teratological impact of ethanol on embryonic development. The zebrafish system has important properties that make it well suited to scientific study in the classroom for toxicity.
High fecundity, transparent and external embryonic development, genetic similarities to humans, size, availability of tissue-specific transgenics, and timeline of development all combined to make the zebrafish accessible to the teachers and students. Zebrafish are available to students during the student synthesis portion of each module called extensions. The short timeline of zebrafish development enables meaningful student inquiry that fits within the academic calendar.